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International Criminal Court (Scotland) Act 2001

Section 5 – Responsibility of military commanders and other superiors

13.This section makes provision for military commanders and other superiors to be held criminally responsible for the acts of their subordinates. The provision is based on article 28 of the ICC Statute. The wording draws a distinction between the standard expected of military and quasi-military commanders in relation to military forces under their command and other superior/subordinate relationships, such as those applying to government officials or heads of civilian organisations, as it is recognised that the latter may not have the same degree of control over the actions of their subordinates. It is well established in international law that superiors can be subject to investigation and prosecution with regard to war crimes etc. This concept stretches back as far as the Nuremburg and Tokyo Tribunals and has also been incorporated into the provisions of the Tribunals dealing with the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. This section would permit such cases to be investigated and prosecuted in domestic courts in circumstances where the ICC might found a case on that basis.

14.Subsections (4) and (5) make it clear that liability under this provision is liability on an art and part basis (i.e. in the capacity of accessory or accomplice in relation to a criminal act), and does not preclude any other liability that the commander or superior may have, for example where the commander has in fact ordered the commission of the offences.

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Explanatory Notes

Text created by the Scottish Government to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Acts of the Scottish Parliament except those which result from Budget Bills.


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